Michael Houlihan didn’t intend to launch a wine company. It all started by happenstance.
An executive coach, Houlihan advised a client who manufactured wine. When the client complained that a big customer refused to pay a bill, Houlihan approached the customer on his client’s behalf.
Turns out the customer was bankrupt. But Houlihan noticed the customer had $300,000 worth of wine, so he accepted the wine and gave it to his client. But the client didn’t want the extra wine, so Houlihan launched a business to sell it off.
That business became Barefoot Wine, now a dominant American brand. By pouncing on an unexpected opportunity, Houlihan built a thriving business. His success has also taught him:
Help others first. When you volunteer to do a favor for someone, they often want to reciprocate. And that works to your advantage.
Before asking others to take action, Houlihan seeks to build trust. He offers to do something for them without accepting any recompense. He finds that once you take the initiative to fulfill others’ needs, they are so appreciative that they will seek ways to help you in return.
Admit mistakes. Houlihan and his business partner, Bonnie Harvey, know they are accidental entrepreneurs. Rather than hide behind their mistakes, they celebrate them and extract learning points.
Create a culture among your team in which people acknowledge their mistakes and commit to course corrections. As long as they don’t repeat their mistakes, they will become smarter and more forthright about their strengths and weaknesses.
— Adapted from “10 business lessons I learned from the founders of Barefoot, the biggest wine brand in the US,” Daniel DiPiazza, www.businessinsider.com.